You are starting a business, and you decide to brand it from the word go! There you go. You have a brilliant strategy, and you should implement everything to keep your business running smoothly. But wait, what do you think about a trademark for your business? Do you intend to register it now or later? And how do you choose the right trademark?
There are so many questions you can ask yourself before you make a blunder. Mistakes occur, but some can be avoided. That is why you need to understand everything about branding and trademarking your business. This post unveils seven mistakes that you must avoid when you pick a trademark for your business.
1. Finding a Trademark
Setting for a trademark is not easy. Most people, because of their marketing demands, settle for less-powerful trademark names. Although trademarks involve many items like symbols, colors and so much more, names typically have more weight for many businesses.
Choosing a name for your trademark needs to rhyme with your business – that is what people think. And that is wrong. Taking, for example, a phrase like “Lead Pencils” for a trademark is a no-no. From the marketing point of view, the phrase can rank your business for most searches on Google. But that is not what trademarks are intended for.
For a mark to be considered intellectual property that the state laws can protect, you need to make it unique and non-descriptive of your business. Choose a random name that is not commonly used – especially in your business domain. You can contact a trademark attorney for guidance on how to trademark a phrase.
2. Registration of Trademark
When should you register a trademark? Immediately, right? Yes and no. Or, to put it clearer, it depends. You have found a perfect trademark for your brand. You can go ahead and register it and launch your business. However, this option is the best when you already have a running business with which you can attach the mark.
For startups, you had better wait a little while before registering the trademark. Your business idea could be great, but you want to learn the future of the establishment. Trademark registration requires a process, and you may involve an attorney. The cost you incur is worth it when you achieve the establishment you need.
There is no problem in using a trademark of your choice without registering it first. The main difference is the usage, “™” for unregistered and “®️” for a registered mark. Only register it when you think that someone may “steal” it from you. Once registered, your trademark becomes a protected asset.
3. A Trademark for Various Domains of Your Business
We have various classes of businesses. You can, therefore, think the same when talking about a trademark. Registration of a trademark protects it from any other business that runs the same type of business as you. If you use “Banana” as a trademark for the textile industry, I can use the same for electronics, and I will not have infringed anything.
Therefore, you may need to register your trademark multiple times if your business falls into various classes. Before you register that mark, thorough research is necessary, and you should be sure nobody uses the trademark in any industry that your business operates.
4. Language and Word Choice
We live in a world with too much liberty. So, anything goes, anywhere. No. Not in this type of business engagement. State laws have restrictions on the language you can use when registering trademarks. And we are not talking about French or Chinese. We are referring to the use of inappropriate words that may be deemed vulgar or obscene.
In as much as you think that the choice is perfect for your target audience, business model, and marketing efforts, you cannot proceed once the law says no. To avoid wasting your time and, possibly, money, sit down and think of a trademark name that can fit in a society with people of all ages, gender, and faiths. Your choice cannot be discriminative either.
5. Office Actions
After an application for trademark registration, you may receive a letter from the federal office regarding the registration status. Sometimes, there could be a problem with your submission, and the office action letter requires that you correct the errors so that your application can be processed. Because of too much work, you may forget about the letter.
Failure to respond means that you are not ready to proceed with the registration of your trademark. Your application cannot proceed. That means that someone else can register your trademark without your knowledge, and you cannot do anything about it. When you receive the office action, respond to it immediately, or let your attorney address the matter.
6. Not Using Trademark in Business
Let us go to the first stage again. Have you launched your business or you are intending to begin? Trademarks are meant for businesses that are in operation, and you cannot register one and keep it without application in any trade. In the United States, and many other nations, you are required to use the trademark in connection to the business before you can register it.
After registration, the trademark must continue to operate with your business. Any time you stop using the trademark, you will lose it. For this reason, you are required to submit evidence about your continued use of the trademark to keep it.
7. Assigning the Trademark to the Wrong Party
Who owns a trademark? You, your organization, or your attorney? Before you set off, define the ownership and use of the trademark. Leaving it unclear can cause confusion which may affect the smooth running of your business. In the future, something may happen that requires the owner of the trademark. A solid example is when selling the mark to another entity, who should receive the proceeds from the sales?
In my opinion, assigning the trademark to your business is necessary and makes it easier to set a value on it. The value of a trademark is directly proportional to that of the business it is marketing. Experts in matters regarding intellectual property will help you to assign a value to your trademark. But when assigned to the business, you may want to sell the mark before you close down the business or hand it over.
A trademark gives your brand authority because it prevents consumers from confusing the real trader of the products you deal in. Since there are many business classes, you can only protect a trademark in a given domain in which your business operates. Avoiding mistakes with your trademark ensures that you make the registration and protection easier. You also get the best value from the mark, both presently and in the future.